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Michael Kiskis <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 4 Nov 2010 11:31:27 -0400
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The bit from Hay is not new to the MTP edition.  Clemens used it as part of
"Chapters from my autobiography" -- see *Mark Twain's Own Autobiography, *pp.
109-110.  Hay is mentioned several times in that collection of chapters.

On Thu, Nov 4, 2010 at 10:51 AM, Harold Bush <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> this AUTOBIOGRAPHY is rather astonishing.  bravo, MT Project folks, esp.
> Bo=
> b
> and Harriet!!
> a great comment on its style and content=97and on the sheer audacity of
> Twain=92s theory and method of autobiography--is captured in a small
> snippe=
> t:
> Twain=92s encounter one day with his friend John Hay, former secretary of
> Abraham Lincoln and then author of a ten-volume biography of the slain
> president.   Hay gave him his theory, in effect:  =93each fact and each
> fiction will be a dab of paint, each will fall into its right place, and
> together they will paint his portrait; not the portrait he thinks they are
> painting, but his real portrait, the inside of him, the soul of him, his
> character.  Without intending to lie he will lie all the time. . . .
> consciousness in twilight; a soft and merciful twilight which makes his
> general form comely, with his virtuous prominences and projections
> discernible and his ungracious ones in shadow.  His truths will be
> recognizable as truths, his modifications of facts which would tell against
> him will go for nothing, the reader will see the fact through the film and
> know the man.  There is a subtle devilish something or other about
> autobiographical composition that defeats all thte writer=92s attempts to
> paint his portrait *his* way." (223-4)
> This is great stuff and I'm wondering now about other places that MT's
> connection with Hay is addressed -- I do not recall much about this
> friendship but having just spent massive efforts on Lincoln it is now very
> intriguing to me.  I think Hay is discussed in Paine's biography, but also
> cannot recall seeing this anecdote in other editions but my memory is not
> what it used to be.
> --=20
> Harold K. Bush, Ph.D
> Professor of English
> Saint Louis University
> St. Louis, MO  63108
> 314-977-3616 (w); 314-771-6795 (h)
> <>

Michael J. Kiskis
Leonard Tydings Grant Professor of American Literature
Elmira College
One Park Place
Elmira, NY  14901